Zuma Beach: Malibu, CA: Pollution from Santa Barbara Oil Refineries

Today, we headed up to Malibu to enjoy Zuma Beach on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend. The water was FRIGID, but I had to splash in the waves for a bit before enjoying the sun for the rest of the day. After enjoying our picnic lunch, I happened to glance down at my feet to see a huge chunk of tar/asphalt on the bottom of my left foot. I was mortified as I had NO idea how that would’ve found itself on my feet since I took off my sandals only after we reached the sand. After scraping many of the chunks off with a pit of an apricot, I decided to check with the lifeguard to see if he knew 1) how did tar get on the beach? and 2) did he have anything that could help get it off? The lifeguard told me that this tar/oil pollution had been washing up on the beaches in Malibu for the past few weeks… and it had come from the Santa Barbara oil refineries. (70-80 miles north?) I was absolutely disgusted that pollution would affect such a beautiful beach. The irony is that I had just commented on how thankful I was for the Pacific Ocean not being affected (directly) by the oil spill in the Gulf.

To the second question, he said that no, he did not have any alcohol wipes or even anti-bacterial soap (tar was UNDER my fingernails from trying to remove it from my feet). However, he did suggest a combination of sunscreen and sand… and it worked. If only fish and ocean life had access to sunscreen, we’d be all set.

  • Melanie Waldman - My husband and I had the same experience on Sunday, out near County Line! I was just trying to find some answers on Google and came across your post…thank you (and the lifeguard) for shedding some light on this sticky subject. We were really freaked out, and felt incredibly sad all over again for both the Gulf and the Pacific.

    Oil and water truly don’t mix.ReplyCancel

  • Grete - The same thing happened to me today! We were at the Huntington Dog Beach in OC, and I was rinsing off the tennis balls when the bottom of my foot got some gooped on it. Blech. It took some major scrubbing to get off.ReplyCancel

  • shayla - Had to google Tar at Zuma Beach.. I was crazed at what me and my children saw today.Our feet were covered in it today.. not a nice treat for a beautiful summer day. Still getting it off.ReplyCancel

  • Miss Malibu - The Beach was great early this morning when I took a walk (La Costa Beach). I went back out with the dog at 10am and it reaks of oil outside. Black line of oil and tar all along the beach. Happy 4th of July…..ReplyCancel